Martineau decides against bone marrow transplant

Corner Brook woman hoping the odds are in her favour

Diane Crocker dcrocker@thewesternstar.com
Published on March 25, 2014
Renee Martineau

When Renée Martineau met with a transplant specialist from Halifax earlier this month in St. John’s she thought she’d be learning more about the bone marrow transplant she’d be getting.

Instead, Martineau, who is originally from Corner Brook, was shocked to find out that she actually had a choice of whether to even go through with the transplant.

After hearing the transplant described in great detail, she said “there’s nothing that persuaded me to do it right now.”

Martineau, 23, was diagnosed with blood cancer, a rare form of leukemia, this past fall. Following the diagnosis she spent six weeks in hospital in St. John’s and underwent chemotherapy.

In December, she learned the cancer was in remission, but the search for a bone marrow donor began.

The search was successful in early February, and a March 5 appointment in St. John’s was set up with a specialist from Halifax.

Martineau was told with the chemo she’d undergone there was a 40 to 50 per cent chance that she was cured already, and a transplant would only give her another 10 per cent chance of the cancer not returning.

So Martineau decided to take the “half-and-half” chance that she’s cured.

“The way he put it was it was not necessary to put my body through all that torture,” she said. “If it comes back it would be necessary, but not right now.”

She said if the cancer were to return it would likely occur within one to two years.

“If it comes back, it’s harder to get in remission and the transplant will be necessary because the chemo isn’t enough for a cure.”

Martineau finished up her chemo treatments a few weeks ago and she’ll be monitored through blood checks every few weeks. After five years without a sign of the disease, she’ll be declared cancer free.

Martineau has maintained a positive attitude throughout her illness, which she attributes to helping her beat cancer.

“There’s no point on dwelling on it,” she said. “It’s not going to fix anything.”

Now she’s focused on her recovery and moving on.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” she said. “I’ve been going to the gym now for two or three weeks and getting back to normal.”

Still, she’ll be a little cautious.

“There’s no question right away now, if something is out of the ordinary, it’s right to the hospital.”

While she won’t have to travel for the transplant, it will still take her some time before she is able to return to work. She said being able to rely on the financial support she and partner Laura Brake have received over the last few months has been a great help and took away a lot of worries.

“It’s been great for sure and we couldn’t be more thankful.”